The state of Pennsylvania is one of the two or three states in the country that does not have a state mechanism for funding schools. Essentially, each year school districts go to the state capital separately and ask their local representatives to fight each other over an unspecified, unbudgeted amount of pocket change that might possibly be used to some degree to fund the schools in the state. Please do not ask how well this works.
Finally, the state is being sued.
The plaintiffs say that the state has -- through the development of state standards -- clearly delineated what content children need to learn to obtain a quality education. They say the state has also determined the cost in each district in the state for students to acquire that knowledge -- through a costing-out study conducted in 2006. But they argue that state officials are failing to provide the funding to ensure that students in all districts have adequate resources to meet the standards. For example, a majority of high school students in the state have been unable to pass the recently instituted Keystone Exams, which will be a requirement for graduation for the class of 2017.
Six school districts, the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools (PARSS), the Pennsylvania branch of the NAACP, and a bunch of parents have filed the suit.
Given that the incoming governor and the sitting attorney general are both Democrats, and the incoming governor campaigned on a platform of instituting a sensible funding plan, this is an optimistic time for parents, teachers, and the students. (Students -- remember them?)